9 essential questions to answer in your design brief

A clear and comprehensive brief is the bedrock of any design process. Yet too often businesses omit essential information from this all-important communication. We caught up with designer Vanessa Green, from The Urban Ant, to get her take on the essential questions every brief should answer. 

Vanessa: Whenever I’m discussing a new design project with a client, I always make sure these nine key questions are answered before beginning any project work.  

Q1: What does your company do?

Before you go into detail, give the designer an overview of what you and your company do. It’s always helpful for the designer to get the bigger picture of what your business is about, it will spark ideas they might not have had otherwise. 

Q2: What is it you would like to commission?

After laying out what your company does, move into the specifics of the project. Are you looking for a brochure, an advert, a new company logo or all of the above? Will these designs be exclusive to print, or will they be accompanied by online pieces?

It’s important for the designer to know which platforms the design will be going out on from the start. The processes for print, online and mobile design are all very different. If the designer knows how to set up and plan to your brief from the outset, your project will be much more efficient and cost-effective.

Q3: Who is your target audience?

Describe your usual customers and their motivations. Be sure to include their gender, income, occupation, and age (remember, while your product may be for a child, their parent or guardian will be important target demographic). 

Q4: Who is your competition?

Which major businesses out there are doing the same thing as you? Consider what it is you do that your competitors don’t, and vice versa.  

Q5: What is your aim?

What is it you want to achieve off the back of this project? Are you looking to generate more sales or enquiries, or to boost awareness of an upcoming product or event? 

Q6: What design style are you after?

The more clues you can give to your designer, the quicker you will get your desired product. Include links to examples of other people’s work that you either want to emulate or avoid - this will help give the designer as comprehensive an overview as possible of your brand and its desired visual style.

If you are trying to closely emulate a competitor, there’s nothing wrong with that, just let the designer in on the secret, and tell them who to look at! 

Q7: What can you provide?

Do you have a company logo? If so, can you provide this as a high resolution file, suitable for printing? Have you got corporate fonts that must be used?  If so, are these provided or will you obtain new licenses for the designer?

Star designer tip - Attach core brand images, guideline documents or any other relevant files to your brief invitations using the asset management features in ProStudio’s messenger. 

Q8: What is your budget?

Be honest! Even if you can only provide a ballpark figure, have some kind of budget in mind.  Your budget gives the designer an idea of how much time they can afford to spend on your project. No one can be expected to start working without a complete overview of the project and its budget.

Q9: How much time do you have?

Let your designer know if there is a specific deadline that needs to be met, and be sure to take into account any in-house approval processes that your business requires. If the print deadline is 6 weeks from now, but your team need a week to approve each stage, three design revisions will already have your project three weeks down on design time. Being able to effectively factor in time for both client and designer proceedings is essential if you have a stringent deadline in mind for complete project sign-off. 

In summary, be sure to know exactly what you want out of your design project before the project begins. The clearer you are about everything in your conversations prior to this – even if that means confessing that you don’t yet know what you’re hoping to achieve – the easier the entire process will be. 

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